Gov. Hochul is now Andrew Cuomo 2.0
When Gov. Hochul took office a year ago this month, New Yorkers had high hopes that she would be something new and needed: Big majorities were glad to have a less combative leader who promised “open, ethical governing.”
Yet in addition to her poor performance on crime and the economy, Hochul has proved off-puttingly enthusiastic in embracing cronyism as usual — albeit less competently than Andrew Cuomo.
Crime: New York City sees no real sign of a turnaround in its nearly 2¹/₂-year-old crime scourge.
New York City’s murder level is just a fragile 4% below 2021 numbers, year to date — and the 488 murders New York suffered in 2021 were the highest in a decade. Several of this year’s high-profile suspects, including the men who allegedly killed Kristal Bayron-Nieves and Christina Lee, were out on no bail for previous crimes at the time of the murders.
Yet Hochul refuses to convene a special session of the Legislature to determine how to fix it. Hochul is afraid of the left, even though she handily beat her left-wing opponent in the primary.
This is not just policy-dumb, but politically dumb. It’s not a bad idea to get individual lawmakers on record on where they stand on keeping dangerous suspects behind bars before their own reelections this fall. It wouldn’t be bad for New Yorkers if such stances resulted in some GOP victories and a more moderate, or at least more paralyzed, Legislature.
The economy: New York state is still missing nearly 4% of its pre-pandemic jobs, relative to the summer of 2019. The nation as a whole has 1% more jobs than it had back then.
But Hochul’s only answer to the economy is . . . retrograde cronyism. The $600 million in state and local tax breaks the governor approved for the Buffalo Bills, who indirectly help pay her husband’s half-million-dollar salary as a hot dog vendor, should get more attention downstate.
It’s not just almost all stadium deals are bad for the taxpayer. This one is really bad. Proponents of new urban stadiums can at least argue — somewhat tendentiously — that they’re bringing new economic activity to distressed cities. But the Bills are simply building a new stadium in their suburb, which isn’t distressed. The nearly all-white town’s median income is nearly $90,000, more than a third higher than the national average.
Then there’s the tax breaks she’s pushing for developer and top campaign donor Vornado’s desired office-space campus around Penn Station — so high that the state can’t even calculate the dollar amount. So much for “open, ethical governing.”
If you want to engage in this taxpayer-subsidized cronyism, at least do it for a good cause. But there’s no free-market indication that Manhattan needs more premium-price office space across a ’70s-style arid superblock, World Trade Center or Hudson Yards style; in fact, as The Post’s Steve Cuozzo reminded readers Monday, the office space at the World Trade Center isn’t even finished, for lack of demand.
Then there’s just plain old behind-the-scenes pay-to-play. The owners of a company with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of lucrative contracts to transport Medicaid patients donated more than $200,000 to Cuomo — and have now seamlessly donated more than $100,000 to Hochul, as The Post’s Carl Campanile reports.
Living large: Why govern like this? To maintain power. And why maintain power? Because it’s fun. It’s nice to be so-so-rich, as the Hochuls would be if she left office. But one of the signature trappings of real power, public or private, is access to a private plane or helicopter. With 140 flights from August through March, Hochul has spent much of her first year in the air.
It’s exciting at the top.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.